US Gambling Legislation Updates: Arizona, Kansas, Alabama, Ohio

  • An Arizona sports betting bill has progressed, but lawmakers are concerned over tribal compacts
  • A Kansas committee has approved a sports betting bill after making a number of amendments
  • Alabama Sen. Del Marsh has delayed his gambling expansion bill to build support in the House
  • An Ohio Senate Committee has heard sports betting testimony, with grocers requesting inclusion
Gaming dice in a roll of US cash
Gambling legislation in the states of Arizona, Kansas, Alabama, and Ohio saw updates this week, with some bills advancing. [Image:]

A progressive week for some

Attempts to push forward gambling legislation in Arizona, Kansas, Alabama, and Ohio have seen recent updates, with two bills voted through to the Senate floor.

An Arizona sports betting bill passed through the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday. Senate Bill 1797 would allow retail and online sports betting in the Copper State. It will now progress to the Senate, but lawmakers are concerned over tribal compacts.

lawmakers passed the Sunflower State’s Senate Bill 84 on Wednesday

Similarly, Kansas’ Senate will consider sports betting legislation next after its approval by the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. Lawmakers passed the Sunflower State’s Senate Bill 84 on Wednesday, which would introduce land-based and mobile sports wagering.

Meanwhile, a gambling bill in Alabama has stalled while its sponsor works on accompanying legislation to further its support in the House. The bill would expand the state’s casino market and establish a state lottery.

Finally, Ohio legislators heard testimony from sports betting stakeholders for the third time since the beginning of the year. The state’s grocery stores had their say on Wednesday, requesting inclusion in a future sports betting market.

Arizona bill prompts compact concerns

Arizona made significant progress toward a legal sports betting market on Wednesday. The Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved SB 1794, sending it to the Senate floor next. As of yet, there is no scheduled date for its hearing.

The legislation is a combination of Senate Bill 1794 and Senate Bill 1797. The former legalizes historical horse racing at racetracks statewide, while the latter creates a legal retail and mobile sports betting market.

Any legislation will require the approval of Arizona’s tribes, which currently hold a monopoly over slot gaming. Some state lawmakers have referred to the inclusion of historical horse racing as a “poison pill” for sports betting hopes. The tribes could consider legalization of the slot-style machines a breach of their compacts.

Arizona’s tribal compacts expire in 2022. In his State of the State address earlier this year, Governor Doug Ducey made clear his intention to revise these contracts to include sports wagering. In January, Ducey confirmed the completion of tribal negotiations.

Kansas legislation gets a fresh look

An amended Kansas sports betting bill, Senate Bill 84, earned its place on the Senate floor after receiving committee approval on Wednesday. Legislators adapted the mobile and retail sports betting bill after hearing testimonies from its main proponents and opponents earlier in the month.

the tax rate for land-based sportsbooks fell from 7.5% to 5.5%

As a result of those testimonies, legislators agreed to lower the tax rates for both online and retail operators. The tax rate for land-based sportsbooks fell from 7.5% to 5.5% of gross gaming revenue, while online operators must now pay 8%, down from 10%. Meanwhile, 2% of tax revenue will go toward gambling addiction organizations. 

The changes didn’t stop there. Lawmakers also increased the number of online operator skins from two to three and banned betting on greyhound races. The committee also denied lottery retailers the right to host their own sportsbooks.

Senator Marsh looks for support

In Alabama, Senator Del Marsh said he is reworking his gambling legislation to give it a greater chance of passing through the House. The bill would establish a state lottery and allow slot machines and table games in certain approved venues.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Marsh said he needs to increase support in the House before his legislation can progress. He intends to do this by working on a separate bill detailing how gaming revenue will be used by the state. The senator also said he will consider increasing the number of authorized casino venues to represent congressional districts.

Marsh intends to work on the bill in the coming weeks. It is unlikely Alabama will see a gambling expansion until 2023, however, as it still requires a constitutional amendment.

Ohio grocers have their say

In Ohio, the Senate Select Committee on Gaming has listened to testimonies from sports betting stakeholders and other parties as it considers introducing legislation this year. The weekly, hour-long hearings started this month, with the committee hosting its third edition on Wednesday.

sports betting could operate within the “existing infrastructure” of a grocery store

During the meeting, a representative of the Ohio Grocers Association urged lawmakers to include grocery stores in a sports betting market. Joe Ewig, speaking on behalf of the organization, said sports betting could operate within the “existing infrastructure” of a grocery store. The venues currently facilitate the sale of lottery tickets.

Meanwhile, FanDuel representative Stacie Stern made her case for the inclusion of an operator tax rate of 8-10%. She also argued for three skins per casino and the authorization of collegiate betting.

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